75th Anniversary of "Raczyński's Note"

On December 10, 1942, the Polish government-in-exile appealed to signatory states of the United Nations Declaration with a request to prevent crimes being committed against the Jewish population in German-occupied Poland. On the 75th anniversary of the note’s submission, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is presenting an image of the original note, kept in The National Archives in London.

The note, signed by the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Edward Raczyński, is formally dated 9 December 1942. It was delivered, however, on the following day (10 December 1942) and it was also published on that date. The creation of the note was closely related to Jan Karski's arrival in London in November 1942. Karski's accounts and the microfilms he brought with him detailed the tragic situation of the Jewish population in occupied Poland. Edward Raczyński handed over information on this to the British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden during a meeting on 1 December 1942. Raczyński also proposed organising a multilateral conference to share information about the crimes being committed. In the absence of a British reaction, the Polish government decided to send the note to the signatory states of the United Nations Declaration.

The note (imprecisely called the Karski Report) contained information about the current situation of Jews in occupied Poland and laid out German crimes. It also listed the ways in which the Polish government had provided information and made protests, and called on Western states to stop the crimes. In the final paragraphs, the Polish government called not only for the condemnation of the murders and the punishment of the guilty parties, but also appealed for measures that would stop the mass extermination methods.

The note met with widespread press commentary, and the reaction of Allied governments was the announcement on 17 December 1942 of a special declaration in which severe punishment of the guilty was made.

To publicise the facts about the genocide of the Jews in occupied Poland (apart from the official submission of the note), the Polish authorities also published a large number of special brochures in English and distributed them through Polish diplomatic and consular missions. The 16-page booklet consisted of an introduction and four documents concerning the extermination of the Jewish population on Polish territory under German occupation.

The most important of the documents in the brochure was, of course, Raczyński's note from 10 December 1942. The brochure also contained the text of the joint declaration of the Allied states of 17 December 1942, an excerpt of the statement of Deputy Prime Minister Stanisław Mikołajczyk on 27 November 1942 and a text by Edward Raczyński from 17 December 1942.

The full content of the brochure in PDF format: The Mass Extermination of Jews in German Occupied Poland

A documentary film has been made devoted to Edward Raczyński which includes segments on statements regarding the persecution of civilians. Excerpt 6.25-6.50 shows the speech of 13 January 1942 in St. James's Palace, excerpt 7.35-8.46 concerns the note from 10 December 1942 and the figure of Jan Karski.

Source: Poland MFA